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Forging Defenders for the fight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christina Russo
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As the threat of peer and near-peer global competitors remains ever on the radar, the Air Force Reserve Command’s Integrated Defense Leadership Course is forging the way in molding resilient Airmen ready to defend our nation’s people and assets.

Based at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, IDLC is a year-round training program that focuses on Agile Combat Employment concepts and the tactical skills necessary for Defenders in wartime situations. The IDLC cadre trains Defenders to be capable of forward deploying at a moment’s notice for short, self-sustaining missions while mitigating and neutralizing as many threats as possible.

Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Chase, IDLC chief assigned to the 310th Security Forces Squadron, Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, understands the uniqueness of this course.

“In my opinion, there is no other school that focuses on ACE concepts or this type of integrated defense training quite like IDLC does,” said Chase. “This is the only course that provides that specific type of training to Airmen to become fully capable warfighters.”

From the beta course in 2021 to the present day, AFRC leadership and IDLC cadre are constantly adapting the course to meet the current needs of Defenders to ensure they remain combat-ready while innovating for the future.

“The course is continuing to evolve every year,” said Chase. “We are redesigning the course on a regular basis to continue to be the sole place Airmen need to come to hone the skills necessary for that ACE environment that Defenders will find themselves in if we go to war.”

As a senior enlisted Defender, Chase recognizes the importance of his role as the IDLC chief and the impact he has on his younger-ranking Defenders.

“I want to know I did everything I could to teach Airmen every single skill they need to know to win the fight,” said Chase. “One day, when I’m not there to affect change tactically or strategically, I want to be able to ask myself, ‘Did I leave my replacements with everything they need to make it back home to their families.’”

For Staff Sgt. Steven Stein, an IDLC cadre member assigned to the 910th SFS, Youngstown ARS, Ohio, it’s role models like Chase that reinvigorated his passion for security forces when he went through the course as a student.

“Seeing such drive and genuine passion from the cadre is what honestly drove me to become one myself,” said Stein.

Having been a part of IDLC from its inception as a student to the present day being a cadre, Stein has seen the impact the program has had on the Defenders that complete the course.

“Knowledge transfer that’s passed down from cadre to students is what builds an all-around stronger more capable Defender,” said Stein. “I think being a cadre carries a lot of weight because you never want the ghost of an Airman to haunt you by having them have wished you could’ve trained them better.”

With IDLC being the sole course for integrated defense and ACE training, Chase realizes as course chief that it’s his students who will be taking his place one day.

“We’re always training our replacements,” said Chase. “I tell students on day one, ‘I hope you never have to use a single skill you learn or sharpen here because that’ll mean we’re at war.’ From my point of view, IDLC is vital to Defenders. One day, I’ll no longer be ‘Senior Chase’- I’ll be ‘mister,’ and my ability to affect change to win the fight will have passed. So I’m passing on my knowledge and training Defenders now, while I still can.”

It’s not just Chase who understands the gravity of being an IDLC cadre member who trains Air Force Defenders for wartime situations.

“Everything we do and build here at the IDLC gives Defenders the necessary skills to survive,” said Stein. “It helps build their confidence, competence and consciousness as a warfighter to protect, with the skills learned at IDLC, and defend the assets of the mission at hand.”

Should peer and near-peer competitors threaten our nation, AFRC’s IDLC may be a deciding factor on the battlefield.

“It (integrated defense) means knowing what you’re facing and being prepared to defeat any and everything you are capable of defeating,” said Chase.

With each passing class that cycles through at Youngstown ARS, Ohio, IDLC continues to adapt and overcome to mold resilient Defenders ready to protect our nation’s assets. It may one day be the sole reason a Defender, or a service member under their protection, makes it home alive.